Constantine Valhouli, who was responsible for an awesomely comprehensive map of 200 New York City song references, now has an impressive new map in the works. The new map is called Early NYC Place Names and it aims to catalogue the original Native American and Dutch names of familiar locales around the city.
Needless to say, this map brings to light many illuminating and little known facts about the city’s early history. In addition to providing us with the original names of many NYC neighborhoods, the map also provides us with the translation of each name accompanied by a bit of information about its origins. For instance, the earliest name of the island of Manhattan was Manhattes, which translates to either “town on the island”, “the hilly island”, or according to more “erroneous” translations, “the place where we all were drunk.”
Punk’s Hole, which is the original name of Riverhead in the Hamptons, definitely gets the honor of having the coolest name on the map. Flushing, Queens was once referred to as Vlissingen and Brooklyn Heights was Ihpetonga. Sheepshead Bay used to be called, well, Sheepshead Bay, though it’s interesting to note though that the name comes from a breed of fish with human-like teeth who used to be common there. Red Hook was Roode Hoek, and before that Sassian. Broadway was de Brede Weg.
Another name which has stayed the same is Gowanus, which was derived from the name of a 17th century farmer whose name cryptically translates to “the sleeper” or “he rests.” But perhaps the most fascinating original name is that of Newtown Creek, which translates to “place of bad waters”. Considering Newtown Creek’s current state, the naming proved to be an enormously uncanny prediction of the future.
According to Constantine, the map is still a work in progress. But with 81 locations already identified on the map, Early NYC Place Names definitely makes for an interesting excursion if you are fascinated by the origins of this multi-faceted metropolis. If you enjoyed this map, also make sure to check out Constantine’s original map of 200 NYC song references as well as this Velvet Underground map of New York City.